Advent Reflection: Journey in the Valleys

The Valley of the Shadow of Death (Psalm 23)

The Valley of Achor (Hosea 2)

The Valley of Baca (Psalm 84)

Three valleys in the journey of life named:

“Shadow of Death”

“Bitterness”

“Trouble”

How did we get here?

Psalm 23 The Shepherd Leads Us

Psalm 23 is the great comforting Psalm of the Lord as our Shepherd. We are assured He will lead us, guide us, provide for us, and protect us.

He leads me in the right paths for His names sake (3).” Jesus is the Way and He knows the Way well.

Suddenly, we are down in a valley called the “Shadow of Death (4).” Has our Shepherd left us?

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…”

For His names sake; in wisdom that is greater than ours; to ever tune our ears to his particular voice; to show us yet once again that he is always present, always caring, always leading: The Good Shepherd leads us on the “right path” which sometimes heads down into the valley called the “Shadow of Death.” There, on this “right path,” He is with us.

Psalm 84 The Pilgrimage Toward God

This Psalm resonates with heart yearnings for God’s presence, the soul’s thirst, the ache for beauty, the necessity and goodness of worshiping the Living God, the desire to build one’s nest and just stay there with Him (V. 1-4).

We are all on pilgrimage toward God. Sanctification, formation, maturation, discipleship – synonyms of Jesus teaching us and shaping us.

The way forward?

A Beatitude: “Blessed are those whose strength is in you.” The Lord is not only at the finish line waiting for us to show up. He is with us, strengthening us, guiding us. We need God to move toward God in relationship and maturity.

A Valley: “As they go through the Valley of Baca (Bitterness), they make it a place of springs…”

Each path has stretches of Bitterness. That is certain. It is norm for all in a fallen world. Every one suffers.

A Larger-than-Ourselves Purpose: The one’s walking with God are the one’s who leave a transformative effect in the valley of Bitterness. The place of bitter waters, is the very place the Spirit overflows with streams of living water through his people.

Hosea 2 The God who Allures

The Lord ever allures his people, He speaks tenderly to her, graces her with gifts.

What catches us by surprise is that to show us His tender love he will on occasion lead is into the wilderness valley of Trouble.

In this troubled time, He is awakening his people to his love – a love that is greater than all the other loves in this world. He knows we are seduced by the false-comforts of this life, so he leads us into a barren place. Do you hear Him?

Now that he has our ear, our desperation, he lavishes us with tender words and vineyards. And again there is redemption beyond our own lives – the Troubled valley becomes a door to hope – for us and for others.

The Valley Named Advent

Advent is a season of longing, for waiting for the Lord who has come and will come again.

In between the heights of Jesus’ two Advents, we watch and walk in life’s valleys.

Valleys are not detours, they are on the Way.

They are not mistakes, they are Wisdom from the Father.

Though they may be harsh, valleys are landscapes of love, redemption and intimacy.

God’s people don’t skirt the valleys, they follow the Lord into those shadowed, bitter, troubled places. There are Kingdom opportunities larger than our own lives. It is through His church that He redeems a world overwhelmed with fear, want and false comforts.

Advent Reflections

What is the name of the valley you are in? Name it specifically.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in and with His people. Where do you see Him? Hear Him? Where is there silence? Mystery? Wonder?

How is He overflowing your life into this dry and weary valleys with living water and words of hope for those in your midst?

The Father delights to tend to His own. Remember that He has a Wisdom and Love greater than ours. Follow Him where He leads.

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6 Responses to Advent Reflection: Journey in the Valleys

  1. Jason Ingle says:

    A rich and timely message as usual, Scott! Thanks, and Merry Christmas!

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  2. Renee Grubb says:

    I so appreciate your blog and your heart prodding us to go deeper, lean into pain and suffering and discover hidden life altering treasures. Blessings

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    • Scott S says:

      Thank you Renee for your response. I have found this to be so true, that the hard times are the opportune times to know Jesus ever better. May you know his abiding love today

      SS

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  3. Allen Teal says:

    You are speaking my language here Scott. Have received great encouragement over recent months through this Psalm. Recently from the section: “You restore my soul”.

    We received a chair brought out from the UK in the late 1800s by my wife’s grandfather with his personal belongings. It was in a scratched and very worn state but I took the time to recover the cushion, strip off the old varnish and wash the framework. This was followed with a lovely dark varnish stain. The end result was something to be admired and often used now by the grandkids.

    Some of my personal thoughts from this line from the Psalm are:
    1. You restore something that is tired, worn, a bit tatty and sometimes even broken. God can take us in situations when we are like this and restore us.
    2. Restoration takes time. We shouldn’t try to hurry God’s work, just make ourselves available to Him. The end result is worth it!
    3. Sometimes restoration involves a striping down, such as cutting out rust or sanding off old paint. Restoration in our lives can involve pain but joy comes in the morning.
    4. The finished product is something of great value and usefulness. God sees us as we are but wants to ‘restore’ us, bringing us to a place where we are all He wants us to be.

    Thanks for your writings. Always find the time to read them.
    Allen

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  4. Reblogged this on Chronicles of a Traveling RN and commented:
    Papua New Guinea is full of hills and valleys. The beautiful grass and trees on the hillside can be see for miles from the seat of a plane when traveling across this nation. Sometimes the valleys go deep as the mountains tower above them.

    However, even when we travel into these spiritual valleys, or even physical valleys, I know that my Lord and Savior Jesus is right there with me. This blog post that I am sharing here on my blog by Scott S. gives an excellent picture of three valleys that the Lord travels through with us…

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